(Isaiah 41:10) So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
My mother is a rock and she raised us by the Bible. And my grandmother is in every memory I have from birth until her death when I was 17 years old.
I went to a Baptist Church my whole life. I was baptized when I was eight years old, How I remember it is that the minister wore big green boots. I was so nervous, I got sick and afterward I got $5.00, a cake and a Bible. That’s my baptism story.
I have two sisters and we would dress up every Sunday for church. One memory I have is when I was maybe age 13. We had to be quiet in Sunday school. The quietest child would receive a $5.00 bill. That was the first time I paid attention to the person that was talking!
We liked to think of God as our Daddy. We weren’t talking to this big man in the sky, we were talking to our daddy. I didn’t have to get all gussied up to talk to him. We’ve always prayed that way. And my mother prayed over us our whole lives, and I still see him that way: Abba, Abba, father.
Then my husband told me he didn’t love me anymore; he just wanted me gone. Even though I was hurt, I honestly believed that was God’s way of erasing all the bad decisions I had made.
As a young adult I went through a rebellion. Hanging with the wrong crowd. I was picked on and bullied in school my whole time. In school I was overweight and stuttered and always made fun of. I started smoking, and I smoked for 21 years.
I walked away from church. I stepped away from God and got in a lot of trouble. I rebelled with hard rock music, wouldn’t read my Bible, didn’t want anything to do with church. At the time, my uncle was a minister in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. He and my aunt offered to put me through Christian college for free. All I had to do was move up there and get a little part time job pay for my books, room and board. But my mother wasn’t well and I couldn’t leave her. So, I didn’t go and regret that decision to this day.
I started going back to church when I met my first husband. I was working at Thriftway in People’s Plaza. And we lived in the trailer park right across the street. I couldn’t get pregnant, and my gynecologist told me that I was too fat. I had a nephew, and so just put all my attention on him. I lost a bunch of weight and then became pregnant with my oldest daughter, Connie.
My husband developed a marijuana drug problem. I gave him a choice between his family and drugs. He wanted a week to think about it; so I left him. Soon afterward, I began dating my sister’s brother-in-law and became pregnant. My father made us get married. We moved to Tennessee for a year, and then to West Virginia. Then my husband told me he didn’t love me anymore; he just wanted me gone. Even though I was hurt, I honestly believed that was God’s way of erasing all the bad decisions I had made.
I’ve wanted a ministry since I was young. I did a thing for Hurricane Katrina at my old church. We got clothes and food shipped down to them. I thought that was my ministry, but it wasn’t. So I kept praying. I was a bank teller and prayed with people, but God said that’s not it. Then I get cancer, and I said, well, this can’t be it. It can’t get much worse than this. And he said, this is where I need you to be. So I get to pray with cancer patients when we’re having our treatments. God took a mess, the mess in my body, and made it my message.
I came back to Delaware and have lived here for 51 years. My two daughters are the most important thing to me. I would do without so they could have. We’d have pizza parties when I got paid. I would eat one piece of pizza and then eat the crusts.
A few years later my older daughter was raped. She turned away from God and began worshiping Satan. I prayed for her every day that God will open her eyes. In 2000 we were baptized together.
I met my current husband in high school. I had a crush on him, and he had a crush on me, but neither of us knew it. In 2010 we met on an online dating app. I was so nervous, not having dated since 2003. We went to the movies. Then he wanted to get something to eat. I’ve always had stomach problems; so I didn’t want to eat in front of him on the first date. We went to IHOP, and the food was pretty good. We had a great time.
We dated for a couple weeks, and then I met his mother. I fell in love with her, and she’s the reason that I married him. She was my Naomi and I was her Ruth. We were married on her birthday. I knew he was finally the one. He has a great testimony. He was a drug addict and an alcoholic, but his mother never gave up on him. We were very close.
I was diagnosed with cancer in 2016. I lost the right part of my colon, my appendix, most of my intestines, 18 lymph nodes, and the fat that’s between my organs and my skin. In recovery I don’t remember seeing my husband, or my kids, or my mother or sisters. I just remember my mother-in-law crying and stroking my face.
Then we got the call that my mother-in-law was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. The doctors gave her about two weeks to live. And I was just shocked. We all took turns taking care of her. I would bring all the sweets and my sister made the best spaghetti.
My grandson and she were very close. He had been born prematurely, weighing 2 pounds, 7 ounces. He was age four when his grandma, Gigi, passed away in 2017. He said to me, “Mama I need to pray.” We kneeled at the couch and I said, what do you want to pray for? He said, “I just want to see Jesus holding Gigi’s hand, that’s all I want to say.”
Two weeks ago he got saved. I asked him if he remembered Gigi and wanting to see Jesus holding her hand. I told him about Jesus: when he was born, how people took him on a hill called Calvary and nailed him to the cross. How Jesus went to sleep for three days in his tomb, and rose from the dead, and is alive in heaven. And my grandson said, “I’ll be in heaven, and Gigi is in heaven too.”
My faith was getting a lot stronger, but I was constantly sick, constantly sick. My magnesium and potassium levels were way off. They sent me to a gastroenterologist who did a blood test and told me that I have celiac disease. He said you’ve had this your whole life, and that’s what caused my cancer and killed my intestines. If I would eat anything: a sandwich, pretzels, I’d be in the bathroom. I have been 100% gluten free since December of 2018.
I continue having cancer treatments. On June 3rd I find out if I have to go for radiation treatments, because the shots aren’t working anymore. I have a rare cancer called neuroendocrine, which Steve Jobs and Aretha Franklin died from. Mine is a slow growing, nonaggressive form which I’ll have for the rest of my life.
During all of this God has opened up doors to my heart, and he has pulled me through when I couldn’t raise my head up off the pillow. I’ve wanted a ministry since I was young, and I would pray and pray that God would give me a ministry. I did a thing for Hurricane Katrina at my old church. We got clothes and food shipped down to them.
I thought that was my ministry, but and it wasn’t. So I kept praying. I was a bank teller and prayed with people. Maybe that was my ministry, but God said that’s not it. Then I get cancer, and I said, well, this can’t be it. It can’t get much worse than this. And he said, this is where I need you to be. So I get to pray with cancer patients when we’re having our treatments.
God took a mess, the mess in my body, and made it my message.
Now, in December of 2019, doctors found a peach-sized cyst on my remaining ovary. My surgeon said to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. That was the first time I said, “God, It’s in your hands. It’s this is totally in your hands.” At worst, the cancer could have spread to my kidneys, bladder, intestines, colon. At best, the tumor is only on the ovary. The tumor was just on the ovary! It was amazing to see God’s hand at work.
Recently my sister invited me to attend Real Life Community Church. I have grown. For the first time I’m not afraid to die. I don’t want to, but I’m not afraid if God calls me home, I don’t think I’m going to die. I think I’m going to go home in a rapture.
I have more confidence. I still have a stutter when I get nervous, but God gave me the gift of gab. It takes me an hour to say goodbye to everybody. You know, that’s the southern way of leaving, takes an extra hour to leave.
But God has taken the mess of my life, all my heartache, all my troubles with everything I’m going through now and he’s got it. I’m not worried. I have learned that through this you have to take baby steps. What I would tell someone is you do your best fighting and talking on your knees.
If the doctors say you have six months to live, it’s all in your mind if you are not walking with the Lord and feeling his hand on your shoulder. I pray every day to be blessed and to be anointed with the Holy Spirit. I felt his hands on my head. He’s there, he’s real.
And if you reach out to him, he’ll take your hand. He won’t walk ahead of you. He won’t walk behind you; he’ll walk beside you. I thought I couldn’t do it. I was basically giving up. I didn’t want to continue with my treatments. It was just so much until they figured out it was celiac. I was in so much pain he carried me.
And he carried me and taught me that I can’t do it on my own. But you have to know one thing: you have to forgive yourself for being angry at the cancer. It’s hard, but you have to forgive yourself. You didn’t make this cancer and God didn’t give you this cancer.
Just forgive yourself. That’s the one thing I can tell you that helped me. I was asking God to forgive me for my sins. Forgive me for hating my body and hating the cancer and I went out in my bedroom and screamed, and just screamed, and just prayed. And I prayed the Psalms 91 to make me a warrior.
I’m not a worrier anymore; I’m a warrior!
And a great place to start is in Ephesians, the armor whole armor of God. When you get to the point where you can feel the armor (and I have to have visuals like Wonder Woman when she holds up that shield) – that’s our shield of faith. We have the Word of God as our sword, and we will make it through with our sword with the Word of God.
More Faith Stories
I remember being in church and going up to the altar and crying. I was so tired of the life I was living. I needed help. I felt a sense of peace at that time and knew that if this Jesus thing can work for some of these other guys, then it can definitely work for me.
I said to myself, “Why should anyone envy me and want to be in my shoes?”
God has led me to amazing places in my life, so let me explain how God led me from South Carolina to Kenya.
We built the first church with great difficulty. We went back to the States and the board asked us to become mission staff with the Outreach Foundation. That was 25 years ago, just about, and we’ve gotten more involved with Kenya as days and years went on.
I am a chef by profession. I’m happy because I do what I love. Now I work at Villadise Tours and Safaris, where I meet so many different people coming from far. Being helpful is just a blessing to other people.
Then God started tugging on my heart. There was a church sermon series that was about taking your God-given dream off the shelf. I was like, “I don’t know what my dream is. God, if you have a dream for me you’re going to have to tell me what it is.”